Spirituality

Spending Money On Experiences Instead Of Things Will Make You Much Happier

They say that money can't buy happiness, and I've always had a problem with that thought. Money can definitely buy you happiness, but it's about how you utilize money. If you use money to pack your house full of top of the line stuff, all you have is a bunch of distracting or comfortable stuff. But if you use your money to pay for experiences, that's another story.

When you're about to kick the bucket, what will diamonds and plasma TVs mean to you? Will they matter at all? Or will the experiences you had with your loved ones bring a smile to your face? That super awesome show you went to with your wife or that awesome vacation your family took to Alaska. Your bike ride across the United States or hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. It's not just a bunch of hippy-dippy babble on my part. A study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology actually shows that people who purchased expensive products saw an immediate devaluation of the item's worth right after buying. But that wasn't the case with experimental investments.

Those researchers found that people do get that life is about creating memories, but we get so caught up in trends and modern day demands that we cave and buy the newest crap. Their study found that people would much rather put money toward having experiences rather than having stuff, and that they almost always immediately regretted buying expensive, trendy things.

Additional research from Cornell University shows that Millennials are more tempted to make purchases based on society's influence - things like new phones and the hottest clothes. But it's not their fault. They're products of society, just as much as the products they buy are products of society. We're so constantly enveloped in social media. Everyone is intensely focused on self promotion. There's nearly no end to it all.

"We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while," says Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a professor of psychology at Cornell University. "New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them."

Which isn't to say you shouldn't treat yourself to the newest gadget if you've done well at work or in life, but understand that you shouldn't expect to derive any kind of long-term joy from it.

"Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods," says Gilovich. "You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you.

"In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences."

In the end, the point is that we should consider utilizing the money we have in life to pay for having amazing experiences with the people we love. Do the things you truly want to do. Live fully. And hopefully, at the end of your life, you'll be able to smile back on all of it.

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